Periodontitis, or periodontal disease, is a form of gum disease that results from severe bacterial infection of the supporting structures around the tooth. It usually begins due to the accumulation of plaque and food debris on the teeth surfaces, which is a result of poor oral hygiene habits. Plaque is a sticky film made of bacteria, which, if not cleaned regularly, initiates infection of the gums that can spread to deeper structures and the underlying bone.
The accumulated plaque will eventually harden to form calculus. Commonly known as tartar, calculus is a hard substance that adheres firmly to the tooth surface. Once calculus formation begins, it accumulates plaque more rapidly and leads to further deterioration of the gingival tissues. Calculus cannot be removed by brushing at home and needs to be cleaned by a dentist.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
Periodontal disease is characterized by specific symptoms that warrant professional intervention and seeking advice from a dentist. Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms are –
- Painful, swollen and inflamed gums
- Bleeding from gums upon chewing, brushing or occasionally even touching
- Teeth that appear more substantial in size due to recession of the gums
- Bad breath that does not go away even after brushing your teeth
- Teeth that gradually become loose in their sockets and may also fall out
- Persistent bad taste in the mouth
Treatment of Periodontitis
Once professionally diagnosed as periodontitis, the disease needs to be treated by a dentist and might require multiple appointments. The main goal in treating periodontitis is to eliminate all traces of plaque and bacterial accumulation from around the gums and tooth surfaces. The type of treatment will usually depend on the severity of periodontitis.
- Mild periodontitis can usually be treated by thorough cleanings done by your dentist or dental hygienist. This includes scaling and root planing. Scaling removes plaque from the surfaces of the teeth and below the gum line; root planing removes calculus and smoothens the surfaces of the root, which prevents plaque and bacteria from clinging onto it. These need to be coupled with proper maintenance of oral hygiene at home for the periodontitis treatment to be successful.
- Moderate periodontitis incorporates multiple sittings of scaling and root planing until the gums have healed completely and reattached themselves to the teeth. If the cleaning fails to treat periodontitis, your dentist might suggest surgical intervention. These are aimed at either reshaping the gums to eliminate periodontal pockets that accumulate plaque, or graft surgeries that assist in regeneration bone lost due to periodontal disease.
- Severe periodontitis almost always requires surgical treatment. By this stage, periodontal disease has usually reached an extent where tooth loss becomes a very realistic possibility. Flap surgery is done to treat gum recession, while bone graft may be done in the areas of bone loss. If teeth have become excessively loose, your dentist might splint them temporarily to make them more stable.
Home Remedies to Treat Periodontitis
If started at an early stage, home remedies may help in treating periodontitis.
- Saltwater rinses with lukewarm warm water, multiple times a day, help in soothing inflamed gums. They also wash out particles of food that may be left behind and reduce bacterial count in the mouth.
- Oil pulling is a process in which about 2 tsp of oil is swirled around in the mouth for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. This is known to reduce bacteria and build-up of plaque in the mouth. The most commonly used oil for this purpose is coconut oil.
- Turmeric is a proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Brushing your teeth with turmeric twice a day has been known to be beneficial against periodontitis. Alternatively, making a pack out of turmeric and a little water and applying it to your gums when suffering from periodontitis provides great relief.
- Tea tree oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Adding a drop of tea tree oil in your regular toothpaste before brushing your teeth will prove to be beneficial for multiple dental issues.
The best way to keep periodontal disease at bay is to practice proper oral hygiene measures on a daily basis. This includes flossing and brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Talk to your dentist about the right techniques of brushing and about incorporating the use of mouthwash into your routine.